Friday, 14 December 2012

Artists and Spirit Mediums

My artistic masterpiece, created in 2 minutes on an iPad:
brown vista with blue things
As you may have gathered from previous posts, I am not a great fan of abstract or conceptual art. I can see the point of art that really grabs you when you look at it, or art that involves real skill - but when it is about painting a whole canvas the same colour, dribbling paint at random, or displaying a pile of bricks or an unmade bed, perlease!

It struck me recently that there is a parallel between abstract / conceptual artists and spirit mediums. There seems reasonable agreement that spirit mediums fall into two classes. There are the frauds who know perfectly well what they are doing is rubbish, but do it to get money out of the people they deceive, and there are the innocents who genuinely believe that what they are doing is genuine - even though their performances are just as worthless as the conscious fraudsters.

Similarly, I suspect there are abstract/conceptual artists who frankly know perfectly well they are producing worthless stuff, but sit back and enjoy the vast amounts of money thrown at them by the idiot but rich punters, and there are those who genuinely believe in what they do. Like the mediums, this doesn't make what they do any more worthwhile, but this section of the artistic population has no intention to con anyone.

And what of the glitterati of the art world - the gallery owners, the people with the big cheque books? They are the equivalent of the venues and audiences where the spirit mediums operate. Some know it's rubbish, but cynically make a profit, others are true believers, as deluded as some of the mediums/artists.

There you have it. The contemporary art world explained. The only difference from spirit mediums is that sceptics haven't turned their beady eyes and attacks on the art world. Yet.

In case you have any doubt that the art world is deluded, I leave you with a story told in Paul Bloom's book, How Pleasure Works:
David Hensel submitted his sculpture, a laughing head called One Day Closer to Paradise, to an open-submission contemporary art exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. He boxed it up with its plinth, a slate slab, for the head to rest on. The judges thought that these were two independent submissions, and they rejected the head but accepted the plinth.

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